The postgame locker room scene for Wofford basketball
Mike Young had several opportunities to leave Wofford College for other coaching positions over the past decade as the Terriers started making regular appearances in the NCAA Tournament. He turned all of them down.
Young prides himself on being loyal, and that loyalty was on display for years as Young spent three decades coaching at Wofford, first as an assistant and for the past 17 seasons as the head coach.
Young had an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up this week as Virginia Tech Athletics Director Whit Babcock offered him the head coaching job with the Hokies. Young accepted the offer, which he described as a “dream come true” and was officially introduced as the Virginia Tech head coach during a press conference on Monday.
Young received a hefty pay raise as he signed a five-year deal for $11.5 million. Wofford does not disclose contracts because it is a private school, but Young’s deal with the Terriers was believed to be between $200,000 and $300,000 annually.
“I felt a sense of loyalty to Wofford. I love the region. I met (my wife) there. Struggled as we moved from the Division II ranks and Division I not affiliated with a conference. I had some dark, tough times but just kept grinding on it and working at it,” Young said. “I have had some other opportunities that I didn’t think were a fit for Mike Young or more importantly for our family. This one made a lot of sense.”
Young, who led Wofford to the NCAA Tournament five of the past 10 years, is a Virginia native and is returning home to lead a Hokies program that made the Sweet 16 this past season.
Buzz Williams left for the Texas A&M job shortly after Virginia Tech’s Sweet 16 run came to an end, opening the door for Young to return home. Young, who grew up attending Virginia Tech basketball games with his dad, is confident his style of play will work in the ACC, just as it did in the Southern Conference.
“This is a different animal. I do feel a real sense of a challenge, something to prove,” Young said. “Sustaining it is not easy anywhere, but that is what we intend to do. They’ve been to the NCAA Tournament the past three years. That is sustaining excellence. Now let’s do it for the long haul. We’re gonna hit the ground running and roll.”
Young pointed out that he recorded wins against the likes of North Carolina, N.C. State, South Carolina and Auburn during his time with the Terriers.
With better facilities to recruit to and more resources to pull from, Babcock is anxious to see what Young can accomplish at Virginia Tech.
“He wants to prove something. I just believe if you can coach, you can do it. His plan for recruiting was really well. He checks every box we could possibly want,” Babcock said. “Somebody gave me a chance, and I like to see somebody that gets their dream job like I did.”
As for Wofford, the Terriers returns three starters from a team that reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament this past season and several other key contributors that played well off the bench.
The Terriers have started their search for a head coach and could opt to promote from within with assistant coaches Jay McAuley and Kevin Giltner appearing to be viable options.
McAuley has been the associate head coach at Wofford since 2017, while Giltner has been an assistant at Wofford for five years.
It is also possible that McAuley, Giltner and fellow assistant Will Murphy could join Young’s staff at Virginia Tech.
“This is fluid. There’s a lot of things happening, needless to say. A bit of a whirlwind. But made a number of calls last night, and rest assured I’m going to do what’s best for our basketball program,” Young said. “In terms of my staff at Wofford, those guys were awesome. And I think one is probably going to get a head coaching job. All of those things are going to work out. I’m going to have people in the places that give us the best opportunity to recruit really well, coach well and ultimately win basketball games. That’s what we need to do.”
Young has a few other former players in the coaching world that could be candidates to join him at Virginia Tech, including Tim Johnson (James Madison assistant) and Shane Nichols (Murray State assistant). Nichols could also be a potential candidate for the Wofford job.
Dustin Kerns, who was an assistant for Mike Young, would have been arguably the leading candidate for the Wofford head coaching job after having a strong season at Presbyterian College this past year. But Kerns was recently named the head coach at Appalachian State.